The Geared series is a prime example of simple concept that's been perfectly executed. Gears, cogs and a whole lot of brainpower conspired to create an instant classic... but this basic premise begs the question of what exactly the sequel could possibly hope to bring to the table. The answer, dear reader, is more of the same. But now with 100% more hamster.
Gameplay remains largely unchanged since the original. Each short puzzle consists of an incomplete hamster-powered mechanism that needs to be restored by dragging cogs into their correct positions. Once assembled, the machine springs into life courtesy of its resident rodent who soon flies off into the foreground.
iDevices provide the perfect platform for the drag-and-drop mechanics, which feel incredibly responsive and accurate even when multiple cogs clutter up the field. Nifty text-free tutorials and effortless first stages start the proceedings at a deceptively easy pace, but a number of obstacles including void areas, walls and specialised gears soon require players to flex serious mental muscle.
Geared 2 certainly isn't as addictive as many other games on the App Store, but manages to hold its own in terms of streamlined, clever puzzling.
A number of small yet extremely effective improvements soon make themselves known. The mechanics are much more forgiving this time around, meaning that you can spend more time worrying about the big picture rather than having to place each gear in exactly the right place.
There's nothing more aggravating than solving a puzzle but being unable to complete it thanks to finicky mechanics - and luckily that's now a thing of the past. A simple yet incredibly effective level editor also makes an appearance, allowing us to create and download custom stages using the full range of machinery. It's a shame that we can't search by author or type of stage, mind.
Geared 2 eschews the clinical visuals of the original, instead opting for a charming hand-drawn graphical style. It's generally a lot more pleasant to behold, though admittedly the useful grid background has sadly been removed (compensated for by the more generous cog placement mechanics).
Cog icons on the small taskbar have also been revamped so that players can recognise their relative sizes without having to drag them onto the field. The minimalist design compliments the simple gameplay without being fussy or oblique.
We've gotten used to a fair few mod cons that are curiously absent from Geared 2. Most notably, the lack of global leaderboards, achievements or challenges mean that self-improvement is the only driving force behind replaying levels. The lack of custom soundtracks and limited sound effects are also fairly galling. For the price, however, only the most demanding players will mourn their loss.
- Cunning puzzles with a considerate difficulty curve
- Attractive uncluttered visuals
- Smooth controls
- No online leaderboards
- Repetitive sound effects, no custom soundtracks
- Intriguing without being truly addictive
Summary: Geared 2! is a charming and cerebral little diversion that improves upon its predecessor in almost every respect. The streamlined gameplay arguably lacks the addictive hook of its puzzle peers, but the obscenely low price point makes for a thoroughly worthwhile download.
Developer: Bryan Mitchell
Compatibility: Compatible with iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Requires iOS 3.0 or later.
Price: £0.59 (currently free)